Following a highly controversial Série ACT-Castrol season finale at Autodrome St-Eustache on Sunday, Laperle says he is likely done racing with the American-Canadian Tour for a while. Laperle entered the St-Eustache 300 finale trailing rival Donald Theetge by 33 points for the championship, but found himself in the catbird seat when Theetge was involved in a wreck near the race's halfway point.
Laperle led 189 laps before suffering a flat tire, at the same time that his cousin, Jacques Laperle, running in sixth place at the time, stopped on the track on lap 273 to bring out a caution flag.
The Laperle teams claim that Jacques Laperle's car also had a flat tire, while ACT officials disagree. According to ACT officials, a member of Patrick Laperle's team violated the ACT rulebook by leaving his pit during the race to have a conversation with Jacques Laperle's team at the other end of the infield pit road, just one lap prior to the yellow flag. ACT President Tom Curley viewed the move as "abhorrent", "detrimental", and "dishonest", disqualified the Jacques Laperle car from the race, and penalized the Patrick Laperle car one lap for the pit road violation.
The pit road also remained closed, ACT says, because the caution period was very quick, opening only after the field was realigned, the call came from the race control booth to cross cars over double-file, and the green flag was displayed at the restart. Patrick Laperle pitted to change his flat tire when the pit area opened, losing another lap in the process.
"I knew if I came to pit road to change my tire while it was closed I would lose a lap, so I stayed on the track," said Patrick Laperle, who disagrees. "They were supposed to be double-file, but they were single-file on the restart, and Tom Curley says he doesn't want to look at the video." (In a video of the restart posted on JournalSport.ca, some cars are running double-file at the restart, including front-row starters Jonathan Urlin (#4) and Sylvain Lacombe (#3), as well as some cars in the middle of the pack. Click here to view the video.)
Laperle thinks Curley is playing favorites. "I don't know what it is, but I think he likes Theetge and not me," Laperle said. "There was a press conference in Québec City before the season started and they had Theetge, but I won the U.S. championship and they didn't invite me, no one talked about that. And [Curley] brought Theetge to Loudon for the test early this year and not me. He never talked to me in the pits all year from the first race at Vallée-Jonction (in June) until two weeks ago (at Thunder Road). All of a sudden on Labor Day, surprise, Tom is in our trailer telling a story. I don't get it."
As of now, Laperle says his primary ACT car is for sale, his sponsor, Normand Girard of JPN Racing, has pulled the plug on funding any future efforts with ACT racing, and the car will likely be purchased before the week is out. He said he wanted to race at the Milk Bowl at Thunder Road this weekend to try to become the first driver in history to win the event three consecutive years, but is "afraid I might do something stupid if I go race there."
Laperle's brother and crew chief, Eric, said Curley told him in the heat of the moment at St-Eustache that "ACT would rather lose one team (Laperle's) than a group of drivers that would leave if we won."
The Laperles feel targeted by Curley, drawing comparisons between past controversial incidents with drivers Junior Hanley, Randy LaJoie, and Ralph Nason. "It's been that way all year long, it's been that way for many, many years," said Eric Laperle.
"If that's the way [Curley] wants to treat people, I'll leave," said Patrick Laperle. "We're not a bunch of idiots, we're not just a piece of meat to throw around. I'm done, I've had enough for now. I don't think I'll be racing ACT for a while, maybe like two years I'll come back. I lost Julio (Miglioli, a former sponsor) because of something like this (in 2006), now I've lost Normand except for the Pro Stock when we race that.
"I say that I'm done, but I might have regret and come back next year. But then I'll probably want to smash my head off a wall if I do."